Migratory Birds Threatened by Rule Change
A coalition of national environmental groups led by the National Audubon Society filed a lawsuit in May against the U.S. Department of the Interior challenging the federal administration’s move last December to eliminate longstanding protections for waterfowl, raptors and songbirds under the 100-year-old Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The intent is to weaken enforcement on businesses, municipalities and individuals to prevent “incidental” deaths of birds, which would lessen requirements for their protection from electrical power lines, towers, buildings and other hazards.
The risk of liability under the MBTA has provided incentives for the oil and gas industry, wind energy development companies and power transmission line operators to work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to minimize bird deaths. The new policy eliminates these incentives to reduce and mitigate foreseeable impacts of operations on migratory birds.
“One of the first conservation laws, the MBTA sparked 100 years of conservation leadership in this country,” says Sarah Greenberger, Audubon’s senior vice president of conservation policy. “It defies all facts for the Department of the Interior to suggest that this law is somehow broken when we have a century of evidence that says otherwise.”
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This article appears in the September 2018 issue of Natural Awakenings.